This meeting was in two parts: first we hosted a joingt meeting with members of the Churches Group for Local Unity, and second we reviewed that meeting and planned a meeting with the Government Minister for Planning and Decentralisation.
Joint meeting with members from CGLU.
We compared notes of our respective group backgrounds, concerns and work areas, and charted some of the changes in churches being formed in new housing areas. We discussed Local Ecumenical Partnerships and how they came into being, before looking at some of the issues experienced with LEP's in new housing areas today.
We considered 'light touch ecumenism' and new arrangements eg Bishops Mission Order, alongside Charity and Finance Law, Child Protection and other issues which require formal agreements. David Cornick, CTE General Secretary, surveyed the changing landscape and said 'we need to invent new structures for new forms of partnership'.
We heard four particular stories and drew up a long list of the issues, possibilities, and what these new arrangements, structures, and partnerships might look like, and agreed to review the process now begun of comparing notes between our two groups in 12 months time. Before that we agred to exchange minutes of our meetings and consider the way forward in our own groups before meeting again.
One particular contribution to the discussion was a paper from Roger Paul of the Church of England which you can see here.
Engaging with Government
The second part of the meeting was spent considering a possible meeting with Greg Clark MP, Minister for Planning and Decentralisation. The Bishop of Rochester is a member of the CGNHA Group and knows the Minister, offering to broker a meeting which may be in November.
The following report was circulated to colleagues:
This is a ‘Better Connections’ report from the Churches Group for New Housing (CGNHA), from a joint meeting with members of the Churches Group for Local Unity (CGLU), which met on Wednesday 30th May 2012.
The Churches Group for New Housing Areas invited members of the Churches Group for Local Unity to explore ecumenical arrangements in new housing areas. CGNHA seeks to help the churches in England engage with new developments, especially those over 1000 dwellings, while CGLU provides guidelines for all ecumenical partnerships.
CGNHA and CGLU both recognise that changes have taken place since the current ‘ecumenical architecture’ was put in place. Developments such as Fresh Expressions, new partnerships with independent churches, Anglican Methodist Covenant, Bishops Mission Orders, proposed changes in Charity Law, etc - all suggest that it is worth spending some time looking together at present and future arrangements on behalf of the wider church.
Our meeting was planned to recognise these developments, especially in the light of ongoing questions about ‘Local Ecumenical Partnerships’ (LEP’s), whilst exploring some of the new arrangements, eg ‘Declaration of Ecumenical Welcome’ and ‘Statement of Common Purpose’, ‘Bishops Mission Orders’, that are being tested.
We shared many things in common which included:
1. A common concern to see structures follow need, and developed as appropriate for the particular stage of development
2. Aimed at growing the new ministry to sustainability and further growth
3. Respecting all the churches that have a concern for mission in the new housing area, even if one takes a lead,
4. With structures that serve the regional leaders and their denominational interests,
5. In line with good financial and charity requirements.
We agreed a set of internal recommendations which we plan to review in 12 months time, after we have worked on several areas and compared further notes.